Dr. Jessica Metcalf
Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Dr. Jessica L. Metcalf is a microbiome scientist who leads highly interdisciplinary, innovative research projects that span the fields of forensics, animal science, and health by combining experimental ecology, large genomic datasets, and bioinformatics tools. Her lab studies the complex suite of microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, etc) driving decomposition of postmortem vertebrate animals. Over the past several years, she has been developing a microbial clock to estimate how long vertebrate (including human) remains have been decomposing. Along with several collaborators, she is developing the microbial clock into a new forensic science tool to help investigators estimate the postmortem interval (PMI) for cases with unknown PMIs. She also studies the gastrointestinal tract of vertebrate animals with a focus on the effects of captivity and domestication on animal health. In a similar vein, she also studies the loss of microbial diversity in the human gastrointestinal tract associated with the industrialization/urbanization of human populations.
Metcalf earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from University of Colorado Boulder. She completed postdoctoral positions in ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide in South Australia and in microbiome science at UC San Diego. She joined Colorado State University in 2016 as part of the Microbiome Systems Cluster Hire Initiative. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences.